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Darren Connell's parents Jim and Vera pictured with his seven friends who have raised closed to €30,000 for Jigsaw. 
Darren Connell's parents Jim and Vera pictured with his seven friends who have raised closed to €30,000 for Jigsaw. 

Fundraiser in memory of Darren Connell closes in on €30,000 for Jigsaw

When a group of friends of the late Darren Connell came up with the idea of a cycle in his memory in aid of Jigsaw, they had no idea of how successful their event would be. From an initial idea by Harry Ryan, the gang of seven friends worked on their plan for a few months before putting it into practice last Saturday. Harry, along with Craig Mullen, Ned Brunton, Sean Guirke, James McCluskey, Ronan Peyton and Pearse Sheridan, were all great school and GAA friends with Darren. Early last Saturday they kicked points at Darren’s club pitch in the Gilson Park, Oldcastle. They then cycled to the club’s other pitch at Millbrook, and took more points.

The lads brought seven balls with them: an Oldcastle Gfc, Gilson National School, St. Oliver’s Post Primary and Meath minor balls representing Darren’s playing career. They also brought Ballinlough, Moylagh and Mountnugent balls, representing their own clubs.

An epic journey then ensued, with the lads cycling to the Meath Gaa academy grounds at Dunganny to take more points. As a member of the Meath Minor team, Darren would have trained there once or twice a week, often sharing lifts with Harry, James and Pearse who were his Meath County team-mates. From Dunganny the lads made their way to Pairc Tailteann, taking some great points at the Meath Headquarters. County Chairman John Kavanagh was in attendance to meet them, and told them that they were exemplary young men, doing such a great deed in memory of Darren and in aid of Jigsaw.

Darren Connell pictured in action for Oldcastle GFC.  
Darren Connell pictured in action for Oldcastle GFC.  

Derek Hanway from Jigsaw Meath was also delighted to meet the lads in Pairc Tailteann, along with staff members Liz, Emma and Aisling. “We are just blown away by what the lads are doing for us today” he said. It’s a constant battle to fundraise in order to provide our free mental health services, and this event today has raised a phenomenal amount. A huge thank you to the lads and everyone involved.”

Leaving Pairc Tailteann, the lads took the road through Kells for home. With over 100 kilometres cycled they reached the hardest part of their journey, up and over the mountain just outside Oldcastle. The highest point in Meath is here at the Lough Crew Cairn, and it was a cruel climb on tired legs. However the determination was there and the lads made it safely over, with a nice freewheel down the other side!

Emotions were high as the lads reached Oldcastle, and they made a very important stop on the way, dropping in to say hello to Darren as they passed Oldcastle Cemetery, as they often do.

A crowd of supporters cheered the lads through town as they made their way back to Millbrook. Final points kicked there, and the day was done, an epic undertaking by these fine young men in honour of their great friend Darren Connell.

Harry Ryan, on behalf of all the cyclists, said: "We are amazed at the level of support we have had from so many people. Huge thanks to everyone who has donated to our Day for Darren. The funds we have raised are incredible, and importantly we succeeded in fittingly honouring Darren and that alone is hugely fulfilling for us. Once again thank you all, a day we will all treasure and remember forever."

The Go Fund Me page will remain open for another week, and looks set to pass €30,000 by then, all in aid of Jigsaw. To donate please click HERE.

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